By: Rohan Ottman


Japan hasn't always been like it is now, Japans impressive history of government feuds, religious differences, as well as how people lived due to geographic reasons all have to do with why and how Japan came to be the way it is now through every aspect of it, and its people.

Its Past....

At its start, Japan was no where near being united, it was, if anything, separated into many groups in which were actually clans. The clans worshiped the nature gods and goddesses freely, each clan worshiped different gods as they pleased.

Geographic Features

Feudalism in Japan

Government over People...

The Japanese Government had its ups and downs, however, during the Hein period, power through owning land became more important then being just to the people. This slowly progressed as landowners and clan chiefs started becoming more independent as local rulers. Later on, in the middle of the 11th century, the power of the Central Government and Fujiwaras began to weaken. Landowners who were far from the capitol took this advantage and set up private armies, this also provoked the countryside to become lawless and dangerous. Farmers and travelers however also felt very unsafe since armed soldiers were almost always robbing anyone they could get their hands on and seemed of the lower class. Not only did armed soldiers put fear in the hearts of those on land but pirates controlled the sea, so that left very little boundary of safety. As a result, farmers and small landowners sold parts of their land to strong warlords in order to have some source of protection.

Samurai Warriors

Each Rival Lord had a samurai (which means loyal warrior) which was basically a body guard, this was necessary due to common war between rival lords. A samurai was expected to be just in every and any situation, this meant that courage and bravery had no ending or decreasing point, a samurai was also expected to be good and generous to those weaker then him. A samurai also had to follow a strict code of behavior called the Bushido (meaning way of the warrior), it was better to die a horrible death then to live a long life for the sake of pride of a warrior.

The Kamakura Shogunate

For 30 years, 2 of Japan's most powerful clans fought for power, finally, the Minamotos gained victory. Yoritomo, a Minamoto leader, was given the title of shogun by an emperor, he had the power of a military dictator, the meaning of shogun is "supreme general of the emperors army".The Kamakura Shoguns were at one point strong enough to defeat 2 naval invasions by one of the greatest leaders of the Mongols, Kublai Khan in 1274 and 1281. As a result however, this caused the wealth of the Shoguns to decrease dramatically, this then lead to the loss of prestige and power for the Shoguns.

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In Japan, many clans worshipped different gods and goddesses of nature, eventually, all of the forms of worship and the gods and goddesses being worshipped formed Japan's first religion, Shintoism.Shintoism, was also based on tremendous respect and humbleness for the ancestors and the forces of nature. Something which was very heavily believed in Shintoism was what the people called kami- this was the belief that divine spirits in which dwelled in nature. When and if a beautiful tree, rock or nature site was spotted, it was automatically considered and known to be a kami.